A Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement: "We have seen the report of a January 2 airstrike in Yemen, which is long understood as a safe space for terrorists and other adversaries to the United States". In a statement released after the killing, the United States said it had targeted Soleimani because the Iranian general was involved in the killing of several U.S. troops in the region. But on that same night, US forces also tried and failed to kill another Quds leader, The Washington Post first reported.
The successful January 3 strike that killed Soleimani sparked fury from the Iranian regime, which retaliated with ballistic missile strikes on two Iraqi bases that host USA troops but caused no casualties.
USA military operations in Yemen, where a civil war has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, are conducted in secret, and officials said the operation against Shahlai remained highly classified.
US military officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, now say that a military strike targeting Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Abdul Reza Shahlai was unsuccessful. "The Department of Defence does not discuss alleged operations in the region", Navy Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said.
The Chief of Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, along with others was killed in a United States drone attack near the Baghdad global airport last week.
The State Department had offered a $15 million reward last month for information leading to Shahlai and the disruption of the Quds' finances.
On Friday, Trump expanded his description of the threat from Iran that he said prompted the strike on Soleimani, saying Iran had planned to attack multiple embassies across the Middle East, including the US Embassy in Baghdad.
"I can reveal that I believe it probably would've been four embassies", Trump told Laura Ingraham of Fox News.
Congressional Democrats and some Republican senators have questioned the administration's rationale for the strike on Soleimani.
The United States executed a secret operation in Yeman that aimed at, but was unable to kill, an Iranian military, official last week, U.S. officials told Reuters. The State Department did not return a request for comment.
Earlier on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back at Trump and reminded him of the Iran Air flight 655 incident where 290 passengers lost their lives.
On Friday, Pompeo and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, announced new sanctions on Iranian officials and on a few companies - including two in China - involved in the production and export of Iranian steel and other metals.
'The United States will continue to counter the Iranian regime's destructive and destabilizing behavior, ' he said.
Two days later, members of the militia carried out a protest at the US Embassy in Baghdad, which ignited outrage in Trump and Pompeo.